Did you know that tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common problem? Many people grind their teeth without even realising it. In fact, bruxism can happen during the day or at night while you’re asleep. If you’re concerned about tooth grinding, keep reading to learn more about what it is and how to stop it.

What is Bruxism?

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Bruxism is a condition in which your teeth grind, gnash, or clench. If you have bruxism, you may unintentionally clench your teeth while you’re awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them while sleeping (sleep bruxism).

Sleep bruxism is classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Individuals who clench or grind their teeth (brux) while sleeping are more prone to having additional sleep disorders, such as snoring and breathing pauses (sleep apnea).

While mild bruxism may not need treatment, in some cases, bruxism may occur more frequently and severe enough to cause jaw difficulties, headaches, damaged teeth, and other issues.

It is necessary to be aware of the common signs of bruxism and seek routine dental care to detect any problems early. Burwood Dental Care has been helping patients to manage and prevent forceful grinding of teeth.

Types of Bruxism

Awake bruxism

With this condition, you clench your jaw and grind your teeth throughout the day. It is generally associated with emotional problems. Teeth grinding might occur when you are anxious, stressed, or irritated. Concentration, on the other hand, can be helpful. Awake bruxism often does not require treatment since you are more likely to detect and stop it. In addition to stress management, learning how to become aware can reduce the frequency.

Sleep bruxism

It is possible to cause more harm to your teeth if you grind your teeth while you sleep. Since you are unaware of the situation, you might not get the help you need. People tend not to realise how strong their jaw and teeth clench when they sleep with bruxism. Their force can reach 250 pounds, resulting in jaw pain and tooth problems. A clenching motion can also trigger headaches.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

why do people grind their teeth
Most dental professionals consider too much stress and certain personality types to be the causes of bruxism. But, there are also other factors that may result in this condition.

Primary bruxism

Primary bruxism develops spontaneously and is not caused by another health condition. Some of the recognised contributing factors are as follows:

Stress. Emotional stress is a major cause of bruxism among adults, whether it happens when sleeping or waking. According to a systematic review in 2020, there is a significant relationship between stress and bruxism, but more research is needed to fully understand the relationship.

Lifestyle habits. Drinking alcohol, smoking, taking recreational drugs, and consuming a lot of caffeine are all examples of lifestyle habits that may increase the risk of bruxism.

Growing teeth. Bruxism is prevalent in young children, with up to 40% experiencing it, typically when their teeth are developing. Yet, because the teeth and jaw grow so quickly during childhood, bruxism usually disappears on its own without causing long-term damage.

Dental problems. Some people may develop bruxism because of misaligned teeth, poor bite, or crooked teeth.

Secondary bruxism

Secondary bruxism develops as a result of another medical condition, including the following:

Mental health. Bruxism was linked to mental health issues, with teeth clenching and grinding appearing only at night. Yet, there was no link found between depression and bruxism, either clenching or grinding.

Sleep disorder. Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops for a brief period of time while sleeping. It may be a risk factor for bruxism since it reduces sleep quality and causes frequent arousals. Sleep apnea can promote teeth grinding or clenching by disrupting sleep.

Neurological disorders. Various conditions, such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, can cause movement during sleep, which can lead to bruxism.

Medications. Certain drugs, particularly antidepressants and antipsychotics, can have the side effect of bruxism. A 2018 study discovered a link between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and bruxism. The most common culprits among the medicines tested were fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft).

What Dental Problems Can Bruxism Cause?

Bruxism can also be a result of other dental problems, including missing teeth, crooked teeth, and an abnormal bite. When you have a poor bite, your teeth are unable to fit together, causing too much pressure on the other teeth. It can trigger teeth grinding because your jaw muscles attempt to compensate for the misalignment by grinding against each other in an attempt to fit together in a natural posture. Missing and crooked teeth cause misalignment, which can also put stress or pressure on certain teeth, causing them to rub against each other.

How Do Dentists Diagnose Bruxism?

In most cases, dentists do not need to perform any tests to detect if a patient has bruxism. This problem is often diagnosed during a routine dental checkup. Here are a few ways a dentist can identify if a patient is grinding their teeth:

Oral examination

Many individuals who often grind their teeth are unaware that they have a problem. Examining a person’s mouth can often show whether or not they have bruxism. Worn-down enamel or damaged teeth are common indicators that a person has been clenching their teeth. Severe bruxism, if left untreated, might even expose the inner layers of the teeth and result in tooth loss.

From a family member

People suffering from sleep bruxism frequently learn about the condition through family members. Teeth grinding can make a harsh sound loud enough to wake up a sleeping partner. Teeth grinding may also occur in toddlers and young children due to misalignment or the consumption of particular foods and drinks. Parents are usually the first ones to notice and mention the habit to the dentist.


Dentists can identify bruxism by asking patients if they’ve ever had jaw or tooth pain. People who grind their teeth at night constantly complain of waking up with a sore jaw, headache, or earache. Gum inflammation or tooth sensitivity may also cause pain in the patient’s mouth. A temporomandibular joint dysfunction can develop over time, causing locking or clicking of the joint or reduced jaw movement.

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

Individuals who are awake may notice the following symptoms of sleep bruxism:

  • Abraded teeth
  • Broken or loose fillings
  • Chipped or cracked teeth.
  • Facial pain or discomfort that feels like an earache.
  • Overly sensitive teeth
  • Tensed facial and jaw muscles.
  • Damaged tooth enamel, exposing the dentin.
  • Tongue indentations
  • Damage to the inside of the cheek.

While people with bruxism during sleep may not be aware that they are clenching or grinding their teeth, those who sleep nearby may be able to hear the noise. The symptoms of bruxism may be similar to those of other conditions. Contact us today if you notice any of the signs listed above for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Is Bruxism Present in Children?

Yes, teeth grinding may also be experienced by children. But oftentimes, kids do not know they have this bad habit and parents or older siblings usually notice it. Children are more likely to grind their teeth at night than during the day.

While baby tooth grinding rarely causes complications, it is still important to detect bruxism among children to avoid serious complications or other dental problems that may harm their dental health.

Signs and symptoms are similar to adult bruxism:

  • Your child makes grinding noises while sleeping.
  • Having a sore jaw or face after waking up in the morning.
  • Having a hard time chewing.

If you suspect your child grinds their teeth, contact our dental office and consult with a dentist who will examine them for chipped enamel and unusual wear and tear, as well as spray air and water on them to test for sensitivity.

If the teeth are damaged, our dentist may ask a few questions to determine the source of the grinding, which could be misaligned teeth or stress.

What are the Possible Treatments for Bruxism?

Once we confirm you have bruxism, the treatment plan will be determined by the suspected cause of the condition. If you are suffering from sleep bruxism, the dentist may design a mouth guard to protect your teeth or prescribe a muscle relaxant that you will take before bed.

Treatment for individuals who frequently clench their jaws when stressed often focuses on relieving stress. Patients can overcome the habit by limiting their intake of coffee and alcohol, as well as other chewing habits such as pencil biting.

Where Should You Go for Bruxism Treatment?

You should go to a dentist or doctor if you suspect you are experiencing any signs of bruxism. The dentist may ask about any current medications you have and see if any of them may be contributing to bruxism.

Sleep bruxism can be harmful to your oral and sleep health, and a health professional can aid in preventing more serious problems in the future.

There is no specific medication that can stop bruxism right away. But if any of these signs and symptoms are familiar to you, don’t hesitate to contact our dental office today at (08) 9516-1003.

How to Prevent Teeth Grinding?

There are ways that you can help to prevent teeth grinding, depending on what may cause it. As stress is considered a significant root cause, you can do some exercising at home to help you reduce stress. Other interventions are the following:

  • Meditation
  • Physical therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy

It is important to note that professional advice is needed before performing any of the therapies listed above. Other ways:

  • Keep your teeth healthy by getting regular dental check-ups. Seeing a dentist immediately can prevent long-term damage caused by teeth grinding.
  • We can also treat other dental problems, including misaligned teeth or missing teeth.
  • Smoking and alcohol should be avoided.
  • Limit or eliminate caffeine in foods and drinks such as cola, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Be aware if you are clenching your teeth at work or during the day. You can stop yourself by keeping your lips together, teeth apart, and tongue behind your teeth.
  • Avoid chewing on nonfood items, such as pencils and pens. You should also refrain from consuming constant amounts of gum daily.

Final Thoughts

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, occurs when you clench and grind your teeth. It can occur while you are awake or asleep. When you have sleep bruxism, you do not realise you are doing it, which can cause more problems.

Delaying treatment can cause problems with your teeth, jaw muscles, and jaw joints. Consult a dentist if you wake up with headaches, jaw soreness, or earaches.

We can help you choose the best treatment for you, which may involve wearing a night guard while sleeping. Stress management can also aid in the reduction of teeth grinding.
Suppose you have more questions about bruxism, contact Burwood Dental Care at 03 7034 0333 right away to set up a consultation with one of our dentists.

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